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This is Malbec's moment

By: Laura Saieg

In Wine Enthusiast`s last edition, Michael Schachner published an exclusive article about the Argentinian Malbec. The journalist recommend Argentina paying attention to Chile and Australia`s cases in order to avoid making the same mistakes.

"Remember five years ago, when Pinot Noir was all the rage? And prior to that, when Shiraz from Australia logged time as America's darling red wine? And even before that, when California Merlot was the big thing? Nowadays, the hottest wine in this country is the Argentinian Malbec." This way, Michael Schachner, the journalist of the Wine Enthusiast Magazine, starts his article.

"Dense and dark, with full-bodied richness that few other grapes besides maybe Cabernet Sauvignon, warm-climate Syrah and Tempranillo can mimic, Argentinian Malbec is about seven years into a golden run during which exports to the United States have grown exponentially year after year," explains Schachner.

"According to Caucasia Wine Thinking, a Mendoza, Argentina-based consulting firm that monitors wine sales and exports for the Argentinian wine industry, Malbec now accounts for roughly 33% of total Argentinian wine exports, up from 29% in 2008 and 20% in 2005. But when it comes to exports to the United States, Malbec makes up 53% of what this country is importing from Argentina, up from 47% in 2008 and 27% back in 2005," points out the journalist.

"Malbec is on fire," claims Aurelio Montes, who in 2002 crossed the Andes from his native Chile to make Argentine Malbec under the Kaiken label. "Our sales have grown a lot since we started, from scratch to 35,000 cases last year in the US market alone. This past year has been slow due to the economy, but I am forecasting a good 2010, back to 35,000 cases or more. All this has happened in six years time. It is a real phenomenon," says Montes.

Furthermore, in his article Michael Schachner asks "how about a bounty of good-value Malbec and a steady stream of Malbec of upper-echelon quality?" "Since March 2009, I have rated and reviewed 205 Argentinian Malbec for the Wine Enthusiast Magazine Buying Guide, the majority spanning vintages from 2005 to 2008. A total of 33 of these wines, or roughly 16% of the field I sampled, rated 89 points or higher. And ten personal favorites (which appear in boxed form in this article) are, in my opinion, good enough to compete with the best wines from anywhere in the world," highlighted the journalist.

According to the article published in Wine Enthusiast, "if, among Argentinians, there is a fear or downside to the Malbec explosion, it is that Argentina could sooner or later fall into the same trap that has taken export market share away from both Australia and Chile. Those countries, industry observers have repeatedly pointed out, became overly reliant on one product-Shiraz in Australia; cheap Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Chile-to build a reputation and maintain momentum." In this sense, Montes adds "the future is always uncertain. I think we will have growth for three to five more years, but the weakness of Argentina is the fact that they are relying on one single variety...Malbec. And as we know, trends come and go."

External Link: Click here for the full article.

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